Supreme Court Emphasizes Prosecution’s Duty to Prove Cases Beyond Doubt

In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court of India has reiterated the fundamental principle that an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty, emphasizing that the burden of proof lies squarely on the prosecution. The ruling came as the court acquitted an individual accused in a rape case, underscoring the need for evidence to meet the threshold of beyond reasonable doubt before a conviction can be secured.

Presided over by Justice A.S Oka, the bench highlighted that it is not the responsibility of the accused to prove their innocence unless specifically mandated by law. This pronouncement came in the backdrop of an appeal against a High Court verdict that had found the accused guilty in a rape case.

The Supreme Court clarified that every citizen’s right to be presumed innocent is a fundamental human right, deeply enshrined in legal doctrines and constitutional provisions. The court’s decision further strengthens this principle, highlighting that the prosecution must fulfill its duty to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

In the case at hand, the court examined various pieces of evidence, including the circumstances under which the accused and the complainant were together at a guest house, and their communication before and after the incident. The owner of the guest house testified that the two had presented themselves as husband and wife, and there was a substantial exchange of messages between them on WhatsApp. Importantly, the court noted that there was no outcry from the complainant when leaving the guest house, which contributed to the decision to acquit the accused based on the evaluation of all facts presented.

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The Supreme Court’s ruling also touched upon the rights of individuals against self-incrimination, referring to Article 20(3) of the Constitution, which ensures that no one can be compelled to testify against themselves. Furthermore, the court observed that scientific tests like the Narco test fall within this protection, and Section 114A does not apply in this context.

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